Mominul starts delivering on promise
On a few occasions every decade, since the inception of BKSP - the country's largest sports institute - in 1986, Bangladesh cricket gets in the grip of "who's coming out of BKSP" fever. It started with Al Shahriar and Naimur Rahman in the mid-1990s and continued with Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan in the early 2000s. Towards the middle and end of the last decade, Nasir Hossain, Anamul Haque and Mominul Haque were the most talked about.
In between, there have been several misses too. Players, such as Al Shahriar, pace bowler Sajal Chowdhury, and more recently Sohrawardi Shuvo, were highly-rated, but they either had technical flaws or they bowed out at a young age due to the weight of expectations.
With his maiden century against New Zealand, Mominul has begun to fulfill his early billing. It was a two-paced innings; he started off rapidly on the second day, continuing in the same vein as he went past the century-mark, but as the bowling side caught up with him, he allowed Shakib and Mushfiqur - fellow BKSP alumni - to take over the scoring.
"They probably didn't know much about my batting because on the second day, I got a lot of bad balls," Mominul said. "There was a bit of pressure on me today, particularly to score the hundred. I got a little careful as a result, but then I crossed that landmark, and the one after that.
"It was a little tough to bat today, because they bowled in the right areas. I am a disappointed at not getting a double-hundred. I don't know if I would get a second chance."
Mominul's innings would please his BKSP coaches and the age-group scouts, who have spent their lifetimes finding such talents, parading them in tournaments and then spreading the word until one of the Dhaka clubs offer them a contract.
Mohammad Salahuddin, Bangladesh's former fielding coach, used to be the coach at BKSP when Mominul was admitted to the school in the seventh grade in 2004. The mentor kept a keen eye on his progress, and made sure that his guidance wasn't lost when he left BKSP the following year.
Though now he is the coach of a Malaysian university, Salahuddin felt elated after a year of near misses. The two had a talk on the second night when Salahuddin asked Mominul to open up his stance slightly so that he can have full-view of the left-arm seamers or anyone coming around the wicket.
"I was a little concerned that he wasn't getting a big score in international cricket," Salahuddin said. "Today I saw parts of his innings. I was really pleased with how he kept the rhythm of his innings until his hundred. Normally he tapers off or tries to bat too quickly. It was quite good today, I thought he understood where he needed to stop or go after the bowling.
"He is a good guy, very disciplined and a hardworking student. You didn't have to force him to do things. The old guys at the BKSP indoor would tell you that he was there at the nets almost every day. He prepares well, like he did in this off-season when he worked on his leg-side shots."
When Mominul first came into attention with a 150 against West Indies A, then BCB president AHM Mustafa Kamal, a rather excitable administrator, wanted him in the Test squad right away during the home series against Pakistan, two years ago.
It didn't materialise, but Mominul was in selectors' eyes from then on. In his formative years after he had moved from hometown Cox's Bazar to BKSP, he quickly became one of those cricketers that the Dhaka leagues awaited after getting very positive reports from coaches and scouts of the age-groups.
Mominul followed the same route that got him to every representative side. But he hardly played more than five matches in the first-class arena. He was always going to make it to the senior side at the back of a bulk of runs, and that came last season. In eight matches, Mominul scored 443 with a top score of 120 out of the two centuries.
It was enough for the selectors to keep him in the fringes. The opening came when Shakib Al Hasan was injured ahead of the West Indies ODIs at home. A steady 25 in his fifth ODI, also the series decider, gave a glimpse of how he could hold his own.
Mominul made further strides with two fifties during the Tests in Sri Lanka, but in Zimbabwe, after not being able to convert his starts in the second Test, and looking uncomfortable at No. 3 in the ODIs, he was left out from the final ODI and told to work on his leg-side shots.
However, the off-season work, the pre-season tour of England with Bangladesh A and some runs in the Dhaka Premier League have helped him. New Zealand were taken aback by his strokes early on, but even after they restricted him on the third morning and afternoon, Mominul didn't look out of place.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here